The 2014 French Open is just a month away. As Rafael Nadal gets ready for the second Grand Slam tournament of the year, the Spaniard is not exactly playing his best tennis.
On Wednesday, Nadal advanced beyond his first match of the Barcelona Open. Even though the 27-year-old got the victory, it was an underwhelming performance.
Nadal currently ranks No.1 in the world, 2,270 points ahead of Novak Djokovic. He barely got past Albert Ramos, who entered the tournament ranked 103rd. The win wasn’t easy, as Nadal defeated Ramos 7-6 (2), 6-4.
"I had to accept that I was going to be made to work today, that I was not playing at my best level," Nadal said. "But I got through it."
The victory for Nadal came a week after he was upset at the Monte Carlo Masters. The sport’s top player lost to David Ferrer in the quarterfinals of the tournament, marking his first loss on clay after a 30-match winning streak on the surface. After being knocked off at Monte Carlo, Nadal claimed he didn’t play with the proper intensity. He was determined to avoid another loss just days later.
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"After losing in the Monte Carlo I wanted to raise my game here," Nadal said. "It just took a while.”
More struggles from Nadal in Barcelona could be a cause for concern, regarding his French Open chances. His loss in Monte Carlo was one of the most surprising in his career, considering he had beaten Ferrer 17 straight times on clay.
Despite his recent play, Nadal is still a heavy favorite to win the French Open, which is scheduled to begin on May 25. Bovada.lv lists his betting odds at 10/11. Djokoic is his biggest competition at 9/4, while Ferrer comes in at 25/1. Nadal has won the French Open in eight of his last nine tries.